Single-mothers in Japan: Living Arrangements and Well-Being



James Raymo, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Date and Time

January 24, 2011 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM



RSVP required by 5PM January 21.


Department of Sociology Main Quad, Building 120 Mendenhall, Room 101

Winter Quarter Japan Seminar Series

The prevalence of single-mother families in Japan has increased markedly as a result of rising divorce rates. Unlike in the U.S, where the well-being of single mothers and their children is a central research and policy focus, we know very little about single-mother families in Japan. The most widely-discussed characteristic of these families is their economic deprivation. Over half of Japanese single mothers live in poverty despite the fact that nearly all are employed. In the context of limited public income transfers and low earnings, intergenerational coresidence is a potentially important source of support that may buffer the impact of single-parenthood for the nearly one-in-three single mothers who live with their parents.

In this talk, Professor Raymo will present results from the first two studies to examine the role of living arrangements in moderating relationships between single parenthood and well-being in Japan. In the first study, he uses data from a survey of single mothers to examine differences in the self-rated health and subjective economic well-being of those living with parents and those living alone. In the second study, he uses data from two rounds of a nationally-representative survey to compare time spent with children in single-mother families and two-parent families, paying attention to the ways in which the presence of coresident grandparents may moderate relationships between family structure and parent-child interactions. In both studies, I find that single mothers living alone are characterized by relatively poor outcomes, net of theoretically relevant controls. In the second study, he also finds that single mothers living with parents are no different than their married counterparts in terms of the time spent playing with, instructing, and eating dinner with children. He discusses the potential implications of these findings for inequality and the reproduction of disadvantage in Japan.

Jim Raymo is Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he is also an affiliate of the Center for Demography and Ecology, the Center for Demography of Health and Aging, and the Center for East Asian Studies. Raymo's research focuses primarily on evaluating patterns and potential consequences of demographic changes associated with rapid population aging in Japan. He has published widely on key features of recent family change in Japan, including delayed marriage, extended coresidence with parents, and increases in premarital cohabitation, shotgun marriages, and divorce. In two other lines of research, he has examined relationships between work, family characteristics, and health outcomes at older ages in Japan and patterns of retirement and well-being at older ages in the U.S. He is currently involved in the early stages of a project that will examine family change and inequality in Japan in cross-national comparative perspective. His research has been published in top U.S. journals such as American Sociological Review, Demography, and Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences as well as in Japanese journals.

Raymo teaches classes on Family and Household Demography, Demographic Techniques, and Research Methods. He is currently the Associate Director of Training at the Center for Demography and Ecology and the faculty director of the Sociology Department's Concentration in Analysis and Research. He also serves on the editorial boards of Demography and Journal of Marriage and Family. Raymo received his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Michigan after completing his M.A. in Economics at Osaka City University in Japan.